19th Mar 2018

Brussels expresses concern at Germany's court judgement

European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso has expressed concern at a judgement by Germany's constitutional court on the Lisbon Treaty, fearing it could undermine the "European project."

The possible implications of the 147-page ruling is slowly becoming clear after the initial relief expressed in Brussels that the EU's new treaty was given the green light.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Germany's judges on 30 June said the Lisbon document is compatible with the country's constitution but said parliament should have the final say if the EU wanted to extend the competences beyond what is contained in the treaty.

They also criticised the European Parliament - set to gain greater co-legislative powers under the treaty – as not being representative of the will of the European people but rather a body representing member states.

In addition, the judges ruled that Germany's highest court should have final say on interpretation of EU law allowing it to overturn judgements by the bloc's highest court, the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Mr Barroso on Wednesday (15 July) said the judgement raises "very important and sensitive issues in terms of the competence of the European Union and other competences, namely on the understanding of the principle of subsidiarity."

Subsidiarity is the principle that decisions should be taken at the most local level possible. The court effectively ruled that it would uphold the principle to make sure decisions taken at EU level could not have better been taken at nation level.

Mr Barroso said the judgement was "extremely important" for the way member states "understand respect for community law."

ECJ case law has established the supremacy of community law over national law and the court has the last say on interpretation of EU law. To date, its judgements have led to a series of integrative steps in the bloc.

This is because the court rules often in areas where member states have competences. It does this by basing its judgements on the principle of upholding the integrity of the internal market, an elastic category.

Mr Barroso, who will express a formal opinion on the judgement at a later point, said the issues it raises have "to be discussed politically."

He said it is important to clear up "what is now the understanding of the principles of subsidiarity and how can we make that democratic principle, which is very important, compatible with our common European project."

Debate in Germany

The ruling has also raised strong debate in Germany. Some politicians, particularly from the CSU, sister party to the governing Christian Democratic Union, now want Germany's parliament to have the right to approve Berlin's position before it negotiates EU decisions in Brussels.

But this has been strongly opposed by others. Elmar Brok, a German centre-right MEP, on Tuesday said Germany "would not be able to negotiate" under such circumstances.

"As majority voting is applied in most cases, this would mean that Germany could only say yes or no. That would mean loss of influence for Germany and we should not allow that."

The MEP, who sat on the convention that drew up the Lisbon Treaty's predecessor, the EU constitution, told Deutschlandfunk that if all parliaments in the member states were to take this position "then we can shut up shop here" as there would be no more negotiation and no more possibility for agreement.

"That means we must not go beyond certain lines here," said the deputy.

Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case

The European Commission repeated that it followed the rules when its former head joined Goldman Sachs - and suggested it will not follow the EU Ombudsman's demand to refer the case back to the ethics committee.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden emerges as possible US-North Korean summit host
  2. Google accused of paying academics backing its policies
  3. New interior minister: 'Islam doesn't belong to Germany'
  4. Hamburg 'dieselgate' driver wins case to get new VW car
  5. Slovak deputy PM asked to form new government
  6. US, Germany, France condemn 'assault on UK sovereignty'
  7. MEPs accept Amsterdam as seat for EU medicines agency
  8. Auditors: EU farm 'simplification' made subsidies more complex

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceConmtroversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  2. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  5. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  7. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  8. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  9. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?
  10. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  11. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  12. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework

Latest News

  1. Brexit and trade will top This WEEK
  2. Dutch MPs in plan to shut EU website on Russian propaganda
  3. Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea
  4. Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant
  5. Merkel in Paris for eurozone reform talks
  6. Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case
  7. Western allies back UK amid Russian media blitz
  8. Meet the European Parliament's twittersphere